10 Best Castles in France [October 2020]

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If you are looking for rich history and sublime beauty, then the castles of France are where you will find it. These ancient buildings cover a range of architectural styles, and they date back to different periods in time. Visiting them will reveal incredible stories and insights into French royal life.

The famous Loire Valley is where you will find most of these amazing castles. All of the Renaissance Chateaux in this valley fall under a World Heritage Site – making this a really interesting place to visit.

So, if you want to experience the best castles in France, then try to tick a few of these magnificent places off your list.

#1 – Mont Saint Michel

Best Castle in Northern France

Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel ( Photo Credit – www.civitatis.com)

  • A dramatic island castle
  • The town has a famous 9th-century abbey
  • $11 to visit the Abbaye Mont Saint Michel
  • Plan for around 3 – 5 hours visiting time

This truly spectacular castle town is perched on top of a steep island off the coast of Normandy. Mont Saint Michel has a history of being one of the toughest fortresses in France, as well as being used as a prison from the 15th century.

While the main drawcard here is the abbey, tourists flock to this castle for its uniquely beautiful position. The views from Mont Saint Michel really is like no other destination in the world.

#2 – Chateau de Chambord

Best Chateau in France

Chateau de Chambord

Chateau de Chambord

  • The most prestigious chateau in the Loire Valley
  • Built in the 1500s
  • $12 entrance
  • Plan for around 2 hours visiting time

Chateau de Chambord was built for King Francis I in the 1500s. This incredible chateau has remained one of the most impressive sights in the Loire since then. The building is characterised by its many cupolas and turrets.

The building is huge, and just as grand on the inside. Visitors can also enjoy taking a carriage ride or watching the horse show while visiting this chateau.

 

#3 – Chateau de Chenonceau

One of the Most Famous Palaces in France

Chateau de Chenonceau

Chateau de Chenonceau ( Photo Credit – /www.flickr.com)

  • Built across the River Cher
  • One of the most impressive architectural sights in the Loire Valley
  • $12 entrance
  • Plan for around 2 – 3 hours visiting time

This French castle is completely unique, as it is built over the riverbed. It’s another well-known gem of the Loire Valley, located near the town of Chenonceaux. Chateau de Chenonceau was built around 1521, and is actually the most photographed chateau in the Loire Valley.

The main reason to visit this place is to admire its iconic river position and grand architectural style. The gardens are also particularly beautiful.

#4 – Chateau de Villandry

The Most Beautiful French Chateau Gardens

Chateau de Villandry

Chateau de Villandry

  • Has an amazing garden with various different themes
  • A classic Loire-style castle
  • $13 for the chateau and gardens, $8 for the gardens only
  • Plan for around 2 – 3 hours visiting time

When you visit a castle in France, the main attraction is usually the grand building. While Chateau de Villandry presents an exquisite architectural feast, it is the gardens that most visitors are drawn to.

These gardens are separated into four different terraces and were inspired by texts from the 1300s. Each terrace has a different theme. There is a sun garden, a water garden, an ornamental garden, and a decorative vegetable garden.

 

#5 – Carcassonne

A Great Castle For Staying Overnight

Carcassonne

Carcassonne

  • A hilltop medieval town
  • A well-preserved historic gem
  • The town is free to explore, but the Chateau Comtal area will cost $11
  • Try to plan an overnight stay

Carcassonne is so much more than just a castle. It’s an entire town that has been beautifully preserved to show off its medieval heritage. This was an important castle during the Albigensian Crusade during the early 13th century.

Carcassonne is a perfect example of what life was like back in the dark ages. Simply walking around the place, admiring the fortified walls and turreted buildings is wonderful. You can also visit the magnificent Chateau Comtal as an additional landmark building here.

 

#6 – Vaux-le-Vicomte

One of the Best Castles in Southern France

Vaux-le-Vicomte

Vaux-le-Vicomte

  • Beautiful mid-17th century palace
  • A collaboration between two famous Versailles designers
  • $18 for a daytime visit, $21 for candlelight evenings
  • Plan for around 3 – 6 hours visiting time

Not too far south from Paris, Vaux-le-Vicomte is one of the most stunning palaces in the country. This iconic baroque masterpiece is a spectacular place to explore for those wanting to feel like a royal.

The grounds here are so extensive that you can rent golf carts to explore them! This is always a great addition to add to your Vaux-le-Vicomte visit. Just be sure to budget additional time in your itinerary, as you could spend all day in the gardens.

 

#7 – Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg

A Unique French Fortress in Alsace

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg

Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg ( Photo Credit – en.tripadvisor.com.hk)

  • A one-of-a-kind castle restored by Kaiser Wilhelm II
  • Located on the Buntsandstein Rock
  • $10 entrance
  • Plan for around 2 hours visiting time

Alsace is an interesting part of France, and the Chateau du Haut-Koenigsbourg is one of the most historic and significant places to visit here. This castle underwent restoration by Kaiser Wilhelm II in the 19th century – 200 years after the castle was sacked by the Swedes.

Chateau du Haut-Konisbourg offers an architectural style unlike any other castle in France. The place is built from shimmering pink sandstone, and it offers amazing views out over the Black Forest.

#8 – Palace of Versailles

The Most Famous Palace in France

Palace of Versailles

Palace of Versailles

  • Home of the French monarchy during the reign of Louis XVI
  • Has played a major role in many events of world history
  • $16 for a palace ticket, $19 to access the rest of the grounds at Versailles
  • Plan for around 2 – 5 hours visiting time

When it comes to France’s palaces and castles, the Palace of Versailles is the most popular. This iconic palace has been a huge part of many important events in history, including being the formal conclusion point for the Prussian and First World Wars.

The palace has some incredible gardens and lavish rooms throughout the chateau. There is also the Domaine de Marie-Antoinette for those wanting to see more of what Versailles has to offer.

#9 – Chateau de Cheverny

A Great French Chateau For Families to Visit

Chateau de Cheverny

Chateau de Cheverny ( Photo Credit – www.tripadvisor.com)

  • Full of beautiful 17th and 18th-century interiors
  • The tour includes a train and boat trip
  • $10 entrance
  • Plan for around 1 – 2 hours visiting time

The Chateau de Cheverny is a magnificent building, offering visitors a chance to experience what grand chateau life is like. Incredibly, it’s been in the same family for the last six centuries.

When visiting, you can ride the tourist train through the perfect grounds, take a boat trip on the large pond, and visit the extensive hunting dog kennels.

#10 – Roquetaillade

The Most Popular Castle in the Bordeaux Region

Roquetaillade

Roquetaillade ( Photo Credit – www.carneycastle.com/)

  • Over 1200 years old
  • Still home to the same family for over 700 years
  • $10 entrance
  • Plan for around 1 – 2 hours visiting time

Roquetaillade is a truly impressive place to visit for anyone interested in ancient buildings. The castle was initially built by Charlemagne the Great. In the 19th-century the castle was restored by a well-known gothic revivalist.

This is always a popular place to visit for anyone in the area. The castle and its grounds offer a perfect insight into French medieval history.

#11 – Chateau de Chantilly

A Beautiful Renaissance Palace

Chateau de Chantilly

Chateau de Chantilly ( Photo Credit – www.inspirock.com)

  • The chateau contains an extensive museum – the Musee Conde
  • Contains 18th-century stables with an equestrian museum
  • $19 entrance
  • Plan for around 1 – 2 hours visiting time

This renaissance-style palace is built alongside the water, with perfectly maintained gardens behind it. The chateau shows off some magnificent architecture for anyone interested in historic buildings.

The main reason to visit the Chateau de Chantilly is for its impressive museum inside. This museum contains famous works of art and many medieval manuscripts.

FAQs

France’s castles are vast, with all kinds of amazing chateaux and palaces around the country. Here are a few important things to know if you are planning on visiting French castles.

How many castles are in France?

If you are interested in castles and palaces, then France is the place to go! There are around 6500 castles and landmark chateaus around the country – offering loads of historical places to explore. The Loire Valley is where most of the famous chateaus can be found.

How many free castles are in France?

France is not known for its free attractions, and finding free castles to visit can be difficult. However, many palaces and chateaux offer discounted rates or free days on certain occasions. For example, the Palace of Versailles is free to visit on the first Sunday of every month.

What can I bring in French castles?

French castles are popular tourist attractions in the country that see many visitors each day. There are not very strict regulations on what to bring into French castles, except for the obvious items that aren’t allowed at tourist spots. Try to avoid bringing in food and drink.

Final Thoughts on French Castles

France is packed full of exquisite castles, palaces and chateaux. Anyone interested in history, architecture, and royal life will love exploring these amazing places. While there are so many different castles available to visit, the list above shows off some of the most beautiful and historically interesting sites.

France has an eventful royal history, and these castles are excellent places to discover this. They also show off just how opulent royal life used to be. If you are interested in witnessing this rich part of history, then be sure to visit some of these magnificent castles.

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About the Author Nicola Smart

Gin lover. Coffee addict. Nicola has traveled the world for 7 years and is a staff writer for Hotel Jules. Born in London, Nicola first got the taste of travel studying abroad in Barcelona. Since then she's been hooked - traveling the world non-stop. Passionate about green travel and vegan lifestyle, Nicola spends more of her free time staring at maps wondering where she will head to next!